Singapore Rebel - Documentary on an opposition politician in Singapore: This is the film Singapores censorship board doesnt want people to see. Its the story of opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, who has been imprisoned twice for championing democratic change in the city state. The censors declared it a party political film and it was pulled from last months Singapore International Film Festival line-up after the director was warned he could face two years in jail if the screening went ahead.
September 27, 2005 Subject:
Sign the Petition for Martyn See
The text below is the petition that has been started in order to show support with Martyn See the Singapore Rebel documentary maker and fellow Singaporean blogger. The reason for the creation of the petition was the recent call for action by Amnesty International.
So please follow the links and sign the petition or pass word of its existence from mouth to mouth, emails, blogs, websites or by any means possible.
To: Dr LEE Boon Yang. Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts
The following is an appeal on behalf of Singaporean film maker Martyn See, who is now under police investigation following the making of his short documentary on opposition leader Dr Chee Soon Juan.
We believe that the investigations being taken into the making of this documentary are unnecessary and that the laws undermining freedom of expression should be ended including the Films Act, which can serve to punish perceived government opponents and to deter Singaporeans from expressing dissenting political opinions and participating in public life.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Constitution of Singapore.
Martyn See has been threatened with prosecution under the Films Act, after a making of a 26-minute documentary on Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and could face up to two years in jail or a fine of up to S$100,000.
In March 2005 government movie censors ordered the withdrawal of his documentary, entitled Singapore Rebel, from the countrys annual international film festival on the grounds that that it breached the Films Act. Subsequently, as police conducted a criminal investigation, Martyn See was called for questioning and compelled to surrender his video camera, existing tapes of the documentary and other related material.
We also believe that the harassment of film maker Martyn See and his associates, including the threat of prosecution should be halted immediately.
The Films Act, just one of a wide range of restrictive laws that curtail freedom of expression in Singapore, prohibits "party political films". The Act broadly defines such films as those containing "either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter".
Martyn See denies making the film in support of any particular political belief or party, commenting that he sought to "find out Chee Soon Juan's motivation, as to why he does what he does." Although banned in Singapore, the film has been screened at human rights festivals in the United States and New Zealand and may soon be shown in Canada.
We believe that we the udersigned are acting in accordance with the hopes of a possible relaxation of political and social controls, ushered in by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2004 inaugural speech which called for greater participation by Singaporeans in a more "open" and "inclusive" society.
However, continuing tight restrictions, including the use of the Films Act, continue to inhibit political life.
We believe that the threatened prosecution of Martyn see has a wider 'chilling' effect on the right to freedom of expression in Singapore. And should therefore be halted immediately.
We the undersigned are concerned about the harassment of Martyn See, the threat of his prosecution under the Films Act, and restrictions on freedom of expression, including artistic freedom. We wish to draw your attention to this matter in order that it be stopped immediately.
We the undersigned call for an end to the misuse of restrictive laws, including the Films Act, which can serve to punish perceived government opponents and to deter Singaporeans from expressing dissenting political opinions and participating in public life.
We the undersigned believe that freedom of expression is a fundamental right protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.